Hidden Treasure

NAU Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

During this time, it was not unusual for people to bury their valuables in the ground. Probably the previous owner placed it there and died without anyone knowing about it. The current owner was oblivious to the treasure he had. One day a man must have cut through this field and “stumbled” upon it. He realized the true value of this treasure. With joy, he sold everything that he had so he could buy this field.This is a beautiful picture of God’s kingdom. To follow Christ is worth giving up everything, but in reality you lose nothing of true value, but gain things that you would not be able to otherwise (treasure in heaven, relationship with the creator of the universe, joy..).
Mark 1:16-20 As Jesus was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.
Like the rapper Lacrae says, “Jesus used some fisherman that people thought were hazardous.” Jesus used these rough characters to be a powerful witness for Christ, because they were willing to leave everything and follow Jesus completely. They understood that this life is temporal, eternity is forever.
Mark 10:29-30 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

Need a Friend?

I have just stepped into this new world called “facebook”. As you know this is not new, but it is new to me. It has just amazed me. Today’s technology is crazy. I think that the one thing that has really amazed me most is the “friend requests” that I keep on receiving. I did not realize that I had so many “friends”. There are people that I might have said a few words to, somewhere in my past, has requested to be my friend. Maybe I really have more friends (or enemies wanting to spy on me) than I thought. Sadly as I look around on internet sites such as “facebook”, “my space”, and even blogging, I see the skewed view of what a friend really is.

The online Cambridge dictionary says that a “friend” is “a person whom you know well and whom you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family: 2 someone who is not an enemy and whom you can trust.” Another word for friend: ‘bosom friend/buddy/pal’ is a friend that you like a lot and have a very close relationship with.www.dictionary.cambridge.org

Maybe I am jealous that I do not have 895 friends. (lol) Truthfully, I can only think of a handful of people whom I would give the title as true friends. These are people that I would go to because I know without a doubt that they would give me godly advice, wisdom, and guidance, and they would not gossip about what I told them. As a youth pastor, I have seen (more times than I care mention) “Christians” running off to their “friends” to get advice. Of course, their friend’s advice is not godly, but it agrees with their sinful and selfish desires, so they follow it. Tragically, I have seen many many many many many “Christians” take advice from their “friends” only to make their lives filled with heavy burdens, scars, and regrets.

In James 2:14-26, James is talking about how faith and works go hand in hand. Now works do not save you (saved by grace through faith. Eph 2:8-9), but there should be action in your faith. (Just like if I said that tree over there is an apple tree; how would you know? By the fruit, an apple tree should have apples on it. In the same way, a “Christian” should have fruit (action, proof) to prove that they are what they are claiming to be.) The examples given are of Abraham (rich, male, father of the Jewish nation, moral) and of Rahab (poor, female, Canaanite social outcast, immoral, prostitute). Their actions and obedience is the proof that they had a relationship with God (faith in God). Faith and works were working together. The interesting part is verse 23. “and the Scripture was fulfilled (came true by God) which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED (put his faith in )GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED (credited/counted) TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS (justified, right relationship with God),” and he was called the friend of God (dear, close, in OT ‘to have affection’).” Abraham put his faith into action by offering his son Isaac. God considered his act as completed, because he was willing to trust God to fulfill his ‘seed’ promise even if Isaac was killed. By being justified by God (having a relationship with) he was given the title as a “friend”.

The cool thing is that if you have placed your faith in Christ (have a relationship with), you are also a friend of God. The contrast to this is chapter four, verse four:

“ You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Do not take this that you are not to talk to anyone who is ungodly. Just do not be conformed to their ways or take their godless advise. You are either a friend with the world or a friend of God. You either have a relationship with God or you do not (Note: A relationship like you have with your uncle that you see only for a few minutes at Christmas and Easter is not a true relationship). There is no middle ground. I encourage you to spend daily time with your true friend, Jesus Christ. He will never leave you or abandon you (Heb 13:5) or give you bad advise (James 1:5).

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Change

The one word that has been repeated many times the last several months is “change”. Change can bring excitement and hope to some people; to others it brings uncertainty and fear. Whether for the good or the bad, as we go through life, things change (seasons, economic conditions, our weight, …). However, there is one thing that does not change, that is our God.
Malachi 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change;..
James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Variation: (parallage) a change or variation in the nature or character of something – ‘change.’ (Louw-Nida)
Shifting: (trope) the process of turning, with the implication of variation and change – ‘turning, variation.’ (Louw-Nida)

Since God never changes, we know without a doubt that he will never ever ever leave us, abandon us, or become unfastened from us. (Heb 13:5)

Camel’s Knees

I was doing some reading up on Jesus’ half-brother, James. James thought his big brother was crazy, because he went to stop Jesus from teaching (John 7:5). It doesn’t seem that he became a Christian until after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him (1Cor 15:7). He later became a leader in the church of Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). He was later called “the righteous (just) one” and it was said that “his knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for his people” (Eusebius, Church History, 2:23). (Camels are known for there thick leathery patches on their knees) I thought that I would share what I just found out. It was a little convicting looking at my non-camel like knees.

I now pronounce you man and wife

Last Saturday, I performed my first wedding service. It was my little sister’s wedding. She really wanted me to perform it, so I agreed to it. It actually ended up to be a lot of fun to perform. Something that I found interesting was at the rehearsal on Friday night. We went through most all of the service. The vows were said, rings were exchanged, and I pronounced them man and wife. But when they left, they were still not married even though all of the right words were said.

Sometimes as church attendees, one could go through the motions, say the right things, but nothing changes relationally with God. Years ago I headed up an evangelism group that went around door to door inviting people to our church. My first thoughts were that saved people went to church and the unsaved sat at home on Sunday morning. It took one outing to see that nearly everyone went to church, but most of them had no assurance that they would go to heaven. Looking back, my favorite story to tell is the second house that we went to. It was an old lady who answered her door with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. I invited her to our church and she said that she has attended so and so Baptist church for sixty three years. So I said, “Great! So do you have 100% assurance that when you die you will go to heaven.” She scowled and said, “Don’t know, don’t care.” This lady was unwilling to talk or to take a tract, so we left. Sadly, this poor pitiful lady had spent her entire life in a church, but nothing changed. She did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Christians could be guilty of going through the motions. James talks about how we should be a hearer of the word and also a doer of it. It seems that most every “Christian” likes to be a hearer of the word. It seems that they pick and choose what they want to hear. They like to hear about the riches of Christ, that they are blessed, and that they can ask for anything they want.

What about being a doer of the word: pray without ceasing, give cheerfully, preach the word, be holy, rejoice always, give thanks, don’t quench the Spirit, abstain from sexual immorality, be imitators of the Lord, make the most of every opportunity, forgive each other, be anxious for nothing, press on toward the goal, do all things without grumbling and disputing, put on the full armor of God, examine yourselves, stand firm in the faith, flee from idolatry, let love be without hypocrisy, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed, be filled with the Spirit, encourage and build up one another, go into all of the world, and to consider it pure joy when you have trials of every kind.
James 1:22-25 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.